Field Hockey Star Makes Transition to Lacrosse Goalie

Photo courtesy of the Office of Communication and Marketing.

It’s very difficult to be a collegiate athlete. A college workload in itself is challenging enough. Also, having to practice, train, travel and dedicate oneself to a team makes it all the more difficult. Being a two-sport collegiate athlete is borderline impossible. That only makes it all the more impressive that third-year Colleen Roemer, a member of the field hockey team, will also handle goalkeeping duties for the lacrosse team this spring.

Prior to Roemer joining the team, Hawks lacrosse Head Coach Liz Student faced a very glaring issue: she had no goalie.

“We were in a tough spot,” Student said. “We had a goalkeeper, but you have to hold everybody to the same expectations and it just wasn’t working out.”

Roemer was a member of her high school’s lacrosse team and was a goalie during her sophomore and junior years at Fox Lane High School. Student caught word of this and reached out to Roemer, hoping she would find her new goalkeeper. At first Roemer was a little skeptical toward the opportunity, but after talking to Student, Hawks field hockey Head Coach Shanna Vitale, as well as some of the lacrosse girls and her field hockey teammates, she decided to play.

Having not played lacrosse in four years would normally be a very big obstacle to overcome. However, Roemer has picked up right where she left off in high school, and Student has been very impressed with what she has seen so far from her new goalie.

“She had been out of the cage for a little while when she first got to New Paltz,” Student said. “The difference between that day and today are huge. She keeps getting better and better. For a goalie, she has great reaction time. The shots that are right on top of her are the hardest ones to save, but she makes those saves. She’s fast, and a very athletic keeper compared to a lot of other goalies. She’s going to make a huge difference when it comes to those quick plays.”

Roemer credits the fact that she has played field hockey for the past three years to her easy transition back to a lacrosse goalie.

“Playing collegiate field hockey has made me a much better athlete than I was in high school,” Roemer said. “Even after taking a four-year break from playing lacrosse, when I started back up I felt immediately better at playing goalie than when I was in high school. If I never played field hockey in college, I wouldn’t have developed as an athlete so lacrosse probably wouldn’t be coming back to me as easily.”

Roemer has seen a lot of success so far in her collegiate field hockey career as a defensive back. Last season, she was named to the All-SUNYAC Second Team, leading the Hawks with six defensive saves, including one in the team’s 2-1 victory over SUNY Geneseo in the semifinal round of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament back on Nov. 4. In that game, Roemer also evened the score at 1-1 with a goal at the 53:22 mark in the second half.

She has been named a SUNYAC All-Academic Team member each of her three years at New Paltz, while studying mathematics. She has also been named a NFHCA National Academic Team member during her first two years, and could receive the honor again when the members are announced later this month. Last semester, Roemer was also named a member of the Commissioner’s List. Even with dedicating herself to field hockey and studying a difficult major, Roemer still manages to be successful both on the field and in the classroom.

“She’s the type of person that can do anything, as long as she put her mind to it,” Vitale said. “Colleen is very focused and determined on the task at hand. She’s extremely competitive, she understands what it takes to be successful.”

While Roemer has slipped right back into playing lacrosse, she has described the switch from field hockey to lacrosse as a “weird transition.” This is mainly due to the change in coaching and not the change in sports.

“Coach Student has a very different coaching style than what I’ve been used to with Coach Vitale for the past three years,” Roemer said. “In high school, switching into a different sports season was never a big deal because I had so many different coaches over the years for both high school and club teams. But playing for only Coach Vitale for the past three years, I knew what to expect. Now, things are different so it is taking some getting used to.”

It may take some time adapting to a different coaching style, but Vitale has full confidence that Roemer will carry her success from field hockey over to lacrosse. She also hopes that Roemer will bring a little extra to the team next season from her experiences this spring.

“I expect Colleen to have a lot of fun in what she’s doing, to gain valuable experience as a goalkeeper, to be a leader on the field and be comfortable with directing her defense in the backfield,” Vitale said. “It’s exciting that she’s going to be the pivotal defender in the cage, and I think it’s going to be a really good learning and growing experience.”

Student also has a lot of confidence in her new goalkeeper and is very excited to see what she will bring to the team this season. She hopes that coming from a very successful program, Roemer will bring her winning ways to the lacrosse field.

“It’s going to be great to see her in cage, especially when we get into conference play,” Student said. “Compared to some of the keepers that are out there, she is one of the more athletic ones. She has the size and that determination, that chip on her shoulder, that’s going to push this program forward. Our field hockey program is very successful and that’s what we want our lacrosse program to be. It’s great to have someone come over and push our program in that direction.”

The Hawks will start their season across the Hudson River Saturday, March 5, in a nonconference matchup against Vassar College.